Don't freak out about Cole Hamels

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hamels_cole_091022.jpgUPDATE: Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley comes to a similar conclusion, if you are looking for a more in-depth analysis.

1:45 PM: Facts are facts. Cole Hamels was knocked around pretty good by the Diamondbacks on Friday night, giving up a career-high four home runs, including three in the fourth inning. Hamels has allowed seven home runs over his first 24 2/3 innings this season, and according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, he has served up 14 home runs over his last 40 2/3 innings if we include the 2009 postseason.

Pretty ugly numbers, but certainly nothing to panic about quite yet. Despite a 5.11 ERA, Hamels still has a very healthy 26/6 K/BB ratio over his first four starts and isn’t allowing any more flyballs than he usually does (37 percent flyball rate as opposed to 39.4 percent for his career). What has changed is his HR/FB rate, which currently sits at 25.9 percent. That simply won’t continue. xFIP (a statistic that attempts to normalize a pitcher’s home run rate) currently has Hamels at a much more palatable 3.26.

I realize these are just statistics and Hamels still has to go out there and actually execute a complete gameplan — oddly, he only threw 16 changeups last night, largely abandoning his best pitch — but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he’s just riding out a period of very bad luck. We’ll see.
 

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.